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Re: [xmca] Historical transformations, the body, and feeling whole (again?)

Hi Greg.

I read your post with interest because for many years I have been thinking
about feeling and how we have come to interpret it, or how someone else can
interpret another’s feeling. Especially now, feeling has come to be linked
with one’s gender, race, class, or age, and therefore, has become
subjective, not real. We have come to isolate ourselves from feeling, and
if one feels at all, should find some expert to interpret it, not the
‘object’ of that feeling (which can be anything from oppression, illness to
death) but the feeling itself. So, I agree, we have reduced feeling to a
symptom of something else. We shun from feeling. I have not read Illich,
but I have always struggled to understand why we have failed to relate the
feeling with its ‘object (s).’ This failure, I tend to think, impedes us
from understanding or trying to make sense of, or discourse about many
sources that create misery in human life.


On Sun, Jan 29, 2012 at 8:43 AM, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>wrote:

> So I came across this interesting little bit about writing history in an
> essay by Ivan Illich:
> "The art of the historian consists in the interpretation of traces and
> texts of those long dead. In
> the course of my life as a medieval historian, something has fundamentally
> changed in this task.
> Before a recent radical transformation - roughly, in actio and passio - it
> was possible for the
> exegete to relate substantives and verbs to activities and things that lie
> within the circumference of
> his own sensed experience. After this radical transformation, that capacity
> is lost. This watershed,
> separating the historian from his object, becomes particularly clear when
> the experienced body is
> the subject of historical writing. Dr. Barbara Duden presents this
> convincingly in reference to body
> history of the experience of pregnancy. I myself am made dizzy. How deeply
> the ways of speaking
> and experiencing have been altered in the last two decades!"
> (from Illich's "Health as one's own responsibility. No!").
> I thought that this touches interestingly on recent questions about
> historical transformations, mediation, and ties them to matters of the body
> and feeling. This transformation that he seems to be talking about is a
> transformation into a hyper scientific-rational (someone, please, a better
> term?!) way of understanding the world, and, of course, one's body as a
> part of that world. I took a look at what I could find of Duden's 1993
> book, Disembodying Women: Perspectives on Pregnancy and the Unborn, and
> found it a fascinating premise - that women experience pregnancy
> differently (and more distantly) now then they used to.
> I wonder if Illich's timeline may be off by a little, two decades hardly
> seems like enough time for such a transformation, but maybe as part of
> something larger and on a longer timescale.
> Anyway, Illich's main point is that the current discourse of health (as of
> 1994, but surely true today) alienates people from their bodies, from
> death, and thus from life itself. And I happen to be reading a short story
> right now about the Death of the other Ivan Illych (by Leo Tolstoy) and it
> seems that this is also precisely Tolstoy's point - that Illych is faced
> with thinking about life and the possibility that his life, which had been
> lived "*comme il faut,*" may not have been the proper way to live when one
> truly confronts the reality of death. But whenever his thoughts turn to
> this possibility, Illych avoids it by focusing his efforts on the ill
> performing organ, possibly a floating kidney. His doctors also treat him
> primarily as an organism, as a puzzle, and not at all as a man that is
> going to die.
> I won't tell you how it ends, but I do wonder about the problem of
> *feeling*and what all this means for discourses of
> *feeling*. have we (i.e., the social sciences) lost feeling to scientific
> discourses such that our feelings are no longer experienced as *felt* but
> rather as mere "symptoms" of some underlying (i.e. "more real") physical
> reality ("I'm sad today - must be because my dopamine levels are low").
> How to take feelings back from reductionist science and make ourselves
> whole once more?
> -greg
> --
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Sanford I. Berman Post-Doctoral Scholar
> Department of Communication
> University of California, San Diego
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Dr. Elinami Swai
Senior Lecturer,
School of Curriculum and Teacher Education
College of Education
University of Dodoma
P.O.Box 523
Tel: 225-26-2310002
Fax: 255-26-2310005
Cell: (255) 065-322-8353; (255) 076-722-8353; (255) 078-722-8353
        ...this faith will still deliver
        If you live it first to last
        Not everything which blooms must
        Not all that was is past
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